Tuesday, April 15, 2014

At The End Of The Day...


...I just don't know how I feel about sharply rising gasoline prices in downtown Lotusland.


A couple of years ago now I let go of the VW (notso) Microbus.

And while I'm not sure our kids have yet forgiven me (or if they ever will), it did allow us to become a one car family

Which has forced me to either ride my bike or take the bus to and from work everyday.

So, the only time I ever drive, which is becoming rarer and rarer, is on weekends.

And last weekend I only drove once, to take the Whackadoodle out to the big spit that runs along the southern edge of the last bit of the northern arm of the big muddy.

Which meant that on the way home I noticed that gas had hit $1.49 a litre.

And while I know that hurts working folks that have to drive, and drive a lot, to and from work everyday I also know that it helps get some folks to do exactly what I did.

And I also know that it helps to force bigger changes to get folks to buy cars that don't use fossil fuels.

And that would be a good thing.


Usually, as you might have gathered, I can make up my mind about things.

On this one I just can't.

And ya, as you might expect, I do keep track and add them up...I'm now over the 10,000 km mark on the bicycle I bought two years ago last March...But that has nothing to do with the price of gasoline and more to do with the price of my sanity given that I find that that half hour or so each way is really helpful for science geek decompression every day.



Anonymous said...

Diesel is €1.40 - €1.50/litre here in the Netherlands (~$2.10 - $2.25). Expensive, but we get more than 800km to the tank in our 11 year old Citroen C3 - which we will not be able to bring with us on our return to Canada, where we will be unable to to buy anything to rival it.

That said, our car often goes a month or more at a time without being driven. The main reasons we keep it are because the dog goes virtually everywhere we do (Europe is gloriously dog-friendly), and it costs less to get most places if more than one person is travelling.

We do have a couple of rather nice Dutch town bikes that will be returning with us, though :)

I have to admit, I was selfishly hoping the European free trade thing might change the import status of our car, but sadly, no.,

By the way, at the IKEA here, you can rent a cargo bike for €2.50/hr to get your goods home :)


RossK said...


Have the car co-ops hit big over there?


Danneau said...

The $1.50/liter gas is really bad because of where it money goes, with a whack of it going to support shareholders and execs of companies already subsidized by taxpayers in general. Can we doubt that we have to look at the nature of work, the nature of resource extraction, the amount of consumption, the level of population and the apportionment of wealth? I went to a political organizing meeting last night and came away with the feeling that the party in question was more interested in our current Alice-In-Wonderland vision of governance than engaging the process to direct the country toward something that will allow for life on the planet. We ditched all the other vehicles a decade ago and I use my garden/yard as my contemplation centre and gym, dirt lab, grandchild play area and feedbag. I think it bothers people I know that I'm so content to stay pretty much on the property and do my travelling mentally. Too many of us are blissfully unaware of the nature and scope of the crises we confront (or don't). I really appreciate that you take the time for blogging, family, busking and the Whackdoodle in the midst of some serious work. Thanks, and apologies for all the verbiage.

Anonymous said...

I took the sudden rise in gas price as a sign that a long weekend was upon us.

West End Bob said...

How'd I miss that vid of you, E, and the Whackadoodle on Iona Beach last September?!?

Great setting, sound and occasional appearance of the Whackadoodle - Luv it, RossK . . . .

scotty on denman said...

Not sure I entirely endorse Harcourt's rural-urban split theory (I think the reason for last year's election loss was much more banal than that), but your eloquent contemplation of gas prices remind of one bona fide distinction between the two: cities are by far the biggest users of fossil fuel yet are also best positioned to mitigate the downsides through economies of scale, mass transit, shorter commutes and innovative ideas like the age-old car-pooling, car sharing and electric cars and busses; some fossil fuels like methane (from natural gas) are only feasible over short hauls such as cities afford (non-liquified NG is too bulky to service longer hauls but cities present dense markets where a multitude of retail suppliers would be be economically feasible); oh, and there's other, non-drill/frack sources of methane, too.

And of course there's always bikes for those who can manage it.

Rural life presents a much different situation, long hauls, thin markets, no retail outlets. The high price of auto fuel really hurts; double that if you have to take a (fuel-sur-taxed) ferry to work; triple it if your Gulf Island business is folding because tourists are staying away from gouging ferry costs.

Sub-Boreal said...

There is an intermediate case: smaller cities.

I usually get by on one tank of gas per month. This is possible because I made a conscious choice to live within walking distance (~2 km) of the job that brought me to Cold-but-Friendly-Northernish-City. Even after switching to a more distant workplace (~7 km), it's still possible to bike in nice weather and combine car+walk or walk+bus for winter. All of these options provide some exercise, and door-to-door commute times of 30-50 minutes.

Such arrangements would also be possible in Vancouver, except that I also have a detached house on a 60' lot, paid for with one salary. I completely understand the arguments against low density sprawl. But in this place, the available housing options consisted on either detached houses or low-rise apartments. I could have accepted the latter, except I desperately wanted to have a large garden. Despite a crappy climate, it's possible for me to be self-sufficient in vegetables for half the year. More importantly, this activity means that I "do my travelling mentally" as Danneau puts it, which keeps the vehicle parked too.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ross,

Haven't really seen much evidence of car co-ops/sharing where we are, but the bike population is HUGE. Finding bike parking can be difficult. The train station has about 4k bike spaces - 2 tiers and it tends to be full on the weekends. They also have bike parkades. The bike culture here is seriously awesome.

There were some car sharing organisations where we were in France, though.


cfvua said...

LNG for domestic use would be beneficial in many ways. With gas piped everywhere, it would be a lot tougher for those that would attempt to control supply to instigate a shortage/ price increase at every convenience, like long weekends. Unless of course large plants were built rather than local plants that could not be manipulated as easily as the gasoline or diesel fuel market. Small independently owned facilities that aren't centralized and not reliant on trucks to distribute the fuel would work the best. Refiners always blame lack of supply on a shortage of trucks when they choose to have one.

e.a.f. said...

Biking anywhere in Holland is easy. Its flat. Have you seen the size of the Netherlands? You could drop it into Vancouver island and not find it again. People live much closer to their work in Holland. comparing Holland to the B.C. just doesn't work.

For many, one car per family, just doesn't work in this day and age. it can take an hour and a half to get from Chilliwack to Vancouver by car, there isn't another way. The price of homes in Vancouver is much too expensive, especially compared to the low wages in B.C.

The price of gas is not going to deter many from driving. They need to drive to get to work and to get their kids to sports and school. What may happen is parents will no longer be able to afford to have their children in some sports.

If we are going to extract tar/oil it would be best if we kept if for Canadian consumption, to keep prices low.

RossK said...

Thanks everyone.

Great thread!

Hadn't thought of cfvua's suggestion...

Would be an interesting idea to explore if, say, you were some sharp young kid working on policy development for Horgan perhaps?


motorcycleguy said...

I would like to see us able to have more than one vehicle on one policy. At my work alone there are 25 guys that would gladly drive a small, ultra fuel efficient and relatively clean burning vehicle (whether it have 4 wheels or 2) every day back and forth to work... or for errands.....but be able to have the pick-up truck or van available for weekend fishing trips or to take the kids to ball tournaments or even the the dog to the beach. I believe there would be an immediate 10% decrease in vehicle emissions and fuel (gas, diesel, LNG) usage province wide. Disadavantages include loss of revenue for the provincial government by way of ICBC revenues and loss of revenue for the provincial government by way of less paid in fuel tax. Looks like the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

RossK said...

Interesting idea MCG--

And if you coupled it with cfvua's...?